NJ State Veterans Chamber of Commerce Disabled Veteran & Veteran Business Summit 2023

June 9, 2023

On May 25th, the NJ State Veterans Chamber of Commerce (NJSVCC) successfully hosted the Disabled Veteran and Veteran Business Summit at Farleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ. The event, which took place from 8AM to 4PM, brought together over 150 veteran-owned businesses with government agencies and private companies that sought to procure with them. The summit provided employers and state agencies with a unique opportunity to personally meet with veteran business owners (VOBs) and disabled veteran business owners (DVOBs) to explore their capabilities and discuss potential partnerships for upcoming projects.

The VOBs and DVOBs showcased a diverse range of skills, resources, and capabilities, ranging from skilled trades and construction crafts to technical, technological, and consultation specialties. With a tight labor and hiring market, participating companies and agencies were delighted to learn about the vast array of VOB and DVOB enterprises and how they could meet their needs and contribute to their projects and business development.

The summit proved to be a bustling and productive day, with dedicated booths set up for DVOBs and VOBs to engage with numerous private companies, government agency leads, and business associations. These interactions offered prospects and opportunities for fruitful collaborations. The event’s packed schedule featured panels, an awards presentation, and various speakers, including elected officials and state representatives who discussed the state’s unwavering support for veteran businesses.

An essential focus of the summit was to facilitate the state’s enforcement of its own 3% set-aside law, specifically for disabled veteran businesses, by contracting state agencies. In the past, this set-aside had not been rigorously enforced, which hindered the noble goal of leveling the playing field for DVOBs and remained an unfulfilled intention for the state.

For state agencies, vendors, companies with procurement diversity goals, and anyone else interested in hiring, working with, or meeting the VOBs and DVOBs, registration and additional information about NJF Worldwide can be found here: https://njfworldwide.com/contact/

Although the event has already taken place, it is worth noting that registration was open for VOBs and DVOBs looking for expanded opportunities. Their participation in the summit would have provided them with valuable connections and prospects for growth.

This event was of paramount importance to the veteran businesses in the state. Compared to their non-veteran-owned counterparts, veteran-owned businesses face challenges such as poorly developed networks of partners and affiliates, as well as limited access to sufficient capital for their business endeavors. Consequently, VOBs and DVOBs encounter similar obstacles as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), making it difficult for them to fully participate in the free market system. Furthermore, VOBs have historically been excluded from various diversity goals incorporated into state and federal funding opportunities, including the aforementioned 3% set-aside.

During the summit, several distinguished awards were presented to outstanding veteran-owned businesses, as well as state agencies and organizations that demonstrated exceptional support for veteran businesses. One notable recipient was Ryan Leonard of NJF Worldwide, a minority-owned business that specializes in end-to-end supply chain solutions. NJF Worldwide, under Ryan Leonard’s leadership, has achieved remarkable success with over $163 million in sales. At the summit, Ryan Leonard expressed a keen interest in forging partnerships with fellow veterans, emphasizing the importance of diversity partnerships in both the government and private sectors.

The event provided a platform for veteran-owned businesses like NJF Worldwide to showcase their accomplishments, highlight their commitment to excellence, and connect with potential partners and customers. By recognizing the achievements of outstanding businesses and celebrating the organizations that actively support veteran entrepreneurs, the summit fostered an environment conducive to the growth and success of the veteran business community.